Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Humbugs

I have some strong opinions about the current cultural craze of the elf on the shelf. I will admit that my kids are older and have no desire to track the movements of a fantasy stuffed doll during the holidays, so we do not participate. I have observed many odd things lately about this naughty creature. I just need to vent a bit.

First of all, parents use this game to make children behave by using their innate desire to please against them. "The elf is watching" parents say. But the elf does naughty things. Who is watching the elf? There are endless boards and websites devoted to showing parents what kind of mischief the family elf should wreck around the house. This is like/not like the "Santa is watching" I grew up with. Santa was never seen and certainly would never TP the bathroom or spread glitter around the mantle. It's kind of confusing to me, but so are a lot of things. I do enjoy the fun pics of kids freaking out when the elf gets touched though. Apparently the elf loses magic if he/she is touched or played with by the kid. Seems kind of cruel to me.

I also notice parents getting freaked out by the work of keeping up with the elf all December and remembering to move him/her and create fancy scenes for their children to find in the morning. Seems like a lot of work  to me. Especially at this time of year. And for what effect? Entertainment? For the children? My kids are plenty entertained, thanks. That's why we have computers, and game systems, and TVs, and books. I have to wonder if parents don't participate in this just to prove they can. Since I have failed as the tooth fairy for years, and that only happens occasionally, I'm pretty sure that keeping up the elf charade would be a total flop.

I know this is just a cultural thing and it's not harmful. I know that I resist new and different things just because I am stingy that way. I honestly just don't get the new craze. So, I intend to continue with my marginal, yet just as special, routine for holiday happenings. Mine go something like this: postpone putting up the tree until the youngest begs me enough that I have to respond, find the stockings a few days later, fake "losing" the garlands I bought last year after the holiday so that I don't have to put them up (and thus take them down),  put off gift shopping until the last day, wrap in one long painful session where my legs ache and my feet hurt and I just don't care if you get your present in a Walmart bag, and binge watch my latest Netflix entertainment as long as possible.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

She Did It!

A peek into graduation, from inside my head...

There are so many feelings coursing through my soul this weekend. I took a moment during the ceremony (I had some time to think while the undergrads commenced) to just take in the moment of the day. It was loud, and crazy, and ceremonial, and a little weird for a 40+ mom. But oh, how sweet it was. I feel so many things about completing this degree.

I am grateful. Yep, it's a feeling. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to: God for His gifts of wisdom and protection and provision and so much more; My husband, for walking with me with kindness and understanding through the journey of this schooling experience; my children, for eating way too many fast food meals and living in a messy hovel with irregularly cleaned clothes; my friends, for remembering me even when I forgot important things like calling and keeping in touch.. the list just goes on and on.

I am proud. I did it! I worked full time, kept the family alive, and learned lots of new stuff and I did it! And it feels good. A bit complex, too. As a Christian, we are warned against pride that puffs us up. I struggle with that. But in this instance, I think this pride acknowledges that I did it, with help from those around me and God Himself, most importantly,directing my steps. He gets the glory, but I still am so proud that I did this huge thing. It was work and took courage and was not easy. And I did what I needed to do. I will not discount the effort that this degree required with false humility.

I am joyful! This is a deep and profound lightness in my spirit that bubbles out in my smile. I find myself smiling huge for no apparent reason this weekend. There is joy in finishing well and accomplishing a big goal. I had forgotten that feeling. Before undertaking this degree, I can't remember the last large goal I had to work hard for. There is certainly something powerful in the joy that comes from accomplishing a hard won thing.

I am a bit scared, too. Everyone keeps asking "What are you going to do with all that free time?" And I don't know. It seems wrong to say "sleep more, watch more tv, maybe dust some flat surfaces?" I don't know what God has for me next. I do know that this degree allows me to make some career changes. That is very scary. Exciting, too. But still scary.

My head can be a messy place. Big feelings make me distinctly uncomfortable, but I am processing through it all. And I embrace the life that these emotions stem from. I graduated,so apparently old dogs can learn new tricks. I hoe that applies to other areas of my life as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving rituals

Every family has rituals and traditions. These are the things that are looked forward to and anticipated. Sometimes they are the things we do without conscious thought at the same time every year. Our family is no different.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - we watch it every Thanksgiving. Now that the boys are old enough to have favorite parts we all laugh in the same places. And now that everyone has traveled on planes, trains and automobiles it makes more sense.

Christmas decoration guilt - this one is solely mine. The boys have no guilt about not getting the house Christmasfied before heading back to school. I do. Because I know that it will be December 20th before I get it all out. I've never actually done the decorating before the end of the Thanksgiving break, but I always want to and hate it that I spend my time binge watching shows instead.

Binge watching/gaming - I watch Netflix, the boys game. For untold hours. I am a bad mom. I have less guilt about this than the holiday decorating. Like I said, I am a bad mom.

FFA - Free For All eating plan. I seldom cook except for what I do for the holiday. My family has been known to each peanut butter and old banana chips for 3 meals straight. Only slight guilt on this one because they are still growing and not glassy eyed.

Sleeping in - I take great joy in not setting an alarm. Somehow getting that extra 3 hours in the morning makes a difference in my day. Even though I was up 3 hours later the night before. Internal alarm clocks are the worst thing ever.

Family together time - this tradition has changed over the years, but the constant is that it is always the Saturday before we head back to school. Like it or not, we will spend the afternoon together. :)

I like our traditions. They suit us as a family. And I think that's what traditions are all about.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Funeral Flowers!

Have you ever had to buy funeral flowers? It's hard! It shouldn't be, but wow! I know these things: Mamaw gave white flowers for other people's funerals, carnations are taboo, I have a budget, it matters because it matters to my mother in law. So I went with roses and lillies. White. It's pretty and we loved our Mamaw. That will have to do.

Here's why it's so hard:  I love color! Give me Gerber daisies and crazy arrangements. Flowers are some of my favorite things ever and they shouldn't cause stress. But alas, it's a week of stress. Saying goodbye is like that. Even when it is expected and a welcome relief to know she is out of pain.

So, we will say our goodbyes to the lady who helped Chris become the amazing man he is. We will talk, chat, eat, and endure awkward family moments. That's what makes our family roll.

So here's to you Mamaw! Thanks for years of love, care, acceptance, and great Sunday dinners. You will be missed by many.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IT's my 400th post? really?

So I realized today that I could use some therapy. And then I remembered that I like eating out occasionally, not sweating the bank account monthly, and the kids needs shoes. So, I came here. This is my nook that is kind of public, so I can feel like it's a public airing of life that I actually share with people. But it's also kind of safe because I am pretty sure that my mom is the only one who reads it.

On my 400th post, I'd like to list 400 things I would change if I were the boss. Not really. 400 is a lot and I don't have that much imagination.

Here's what's been happening in Willingham's World: I am trying to finish my Master's degree. That's all. Well, all that I'm thinking about. Oh, and school started. And I really want another job. It's not the place, or the people, or the actually work. No, it's all the other stuff.

I want a job where I can be respected for the 20 years of experience I have in my field. I want a job where I don't feel like every conference is an attack on my abilities and performance. I want a job where performance isn't rated through data boards and menial numbers that only give a piece of what is going on.

I want to teach kids stuff. I want to grow their love of reading and writing maybe too. I want to see them play with ideas and learn how to interact appropriately in social settings. I want to feel like a hero when they finally get it and I don't want to feel like a bandit when I have a crazy idea and just go with it. I don't want to explain my reason for everything I do.

Oh, and I want a 4 day work week. And inclement learning days when the weather is too nice to be inside so everyone must go outside all day. And I want some cream cheese icing.

So, that's where it is. I'm working hard, hard, hard on coursework. And I'm trying desperately to figure stuff out.  Thanks therapists. That helped.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Heart

Within every amazingly good institution there is an individual who is the heart. In exceptional places, there are several. They exemplify what is unique and lovely and powerful within the context of that place. The heart not only keeps things moving, but carries the memories and cultural traditions. They inspire and lead and encourage and guide without even knowing what they are doing sometimes. And when the heart is gone, for whatever reason, the work environment mourns. It will eventually change and a new heart will emerge to fit the new culture and work will continue. But those who were there before always remember and poignantly feel the loss. Phrases like "remember when" and "I sure do miss..." echo in their minds on a regular schedule.

A couple of years ago, the heart left abruptly for health reasons. It was the right thing, but it still hurt. Our family mourned and moved on slowly because we knew it was for the best. A new way of getting things done began to grow in fits and starts.

Then, just as a new culture was forming, another heart was needlessly removed. Here one day, gone the next. Careless and untrue accusations rocked our piece of the world and we wondered if things would ever be right again. Unable to move forward and impossible to return to life before, our family accepted, grudgingly, the new status. Our heart was missing and we didn't know if it would come back. We were incomplete and the loss affected us all. A new normal emerged that was a shadow of what it should be. And we waited. We prayed. We snooped. Then we prayed some more. And we waited, always wondering if our heart would come back to us, or if we would have to create another new way of operating.

Today, our heart returned. It was a glorious surprise that was the perfect uplifting end to a hard first week. The return was answered prayers and patient waiting for justice. It was a beautiful thing. I don't know what it felt like to have over 700 people on their feet chanting your name, friend, but from where I was standing it was the best!

Welcome Home!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I took the summer off

Yep,I did, I took the summer off of blogging. I might even take the fall off. Who knows.

This week has been a little nostalgic for me due to heading back to school and all. son #1 and Baby boy have been amazingly sweet and kind. In return I give them free reign on computers.

But I looked over the other day and got a sentimental. Son #1 is offically a man-boy. He has fuzz on his chin and hairy pits. His voice is strange and he can touch the ceiling without standing on his toes. But he still came over and said "I need a hug". He confessed that he had trouble going to sleep last night because he was missing Blazer. He alternates between physically rough housing with the little brother and giving him unasked for advice about middle school. He opens my doors and lays his head on my arm when we sit close together. He is turning into a beautiful young man. And it made me stop and thank God for a great kid that I get to parent through this life. I took a moment and just felt the joy and sadness of being a mom to boys.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

And..She's back!

The semester is over and I don't have classes for another few weeks. So, I might want to update this. I know you've been dying to hear what has happened. Lets work backward in time....

2 hours ago my son asked how babies came out if they weren't cut out of the Mom. A conversation ensued. The mystery of female biology is no more. Husband, you OWE me. What good is having boys if I have to explain these things to them??? My one perk, and it's gone. At least it wasn't awkward or anything.

5 hours ago, I got Mother's Day flowers 3 days early. And they are pretty! I am so blessed to have a husband who thought ahead enough to order flowers in time that I can show them off to my fellow teacher AND he didn't have to pay prime delivery fees. He's thoughtful like that.

Yesterday, I found out I won an award! I haven't won an award since I was in 7th grade. I received the Outstanding Student Award from SHSU Dept of Library Sciences. So nice to be recognized. I am honored. Truly.

Just before I went to get the mail and find my surprise award, I booked a trip on Expedia to London for the summer. AHH! It's going to happen now for sure because those suckers are nonrefundable. I am so excited. 8 days in Germany for baseball camp and 4 days in London. Traveling the world. I never thought it would happen, but I can't wait. The planner in me is on hyper drive and I am trying to relax about the packing and the paying (right now we can get there and have a place to stay, but not eat or go anywhere), and the being away from home for 2 weeks, and the paying, and finding the right shoes to walk around Europe without having my feet kill me, and.... I think I need to relax a bit. So I'm going to smile awkwardly at my shiny award and figure out what to cook for dinner.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Best VBS promo ever!

VBS Volunteers Promo 2014 from Crossroads Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 5

Oh my Spring Break. Today was a doozie. I drove about 8 hours today. To and from East Texas. Mission accomplished. Treasure found. But boy am I tired. I got home. And there was no pie. It is Pi day. So Dear Hubby just left to get pie. And milk. He's a good man. I think he was so eager to go get pie because he was with the boys all day. All. Day. Or maybe he is thanking me for not having to drive all day. I'm glad to be home. And sad that Spring Break is about done. But there is still tomorrow. Right?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 4

I felt a little lost today. Woke up with a headache, but was feeling better by noon. The children were frighteningly willing to do anything I asked. The weather was gorgeous. I got to finish a good book. It's a middle grade novel with some great elements. Not quite right for a 3rd grade read aloud, but it will certainly make it to the shelves.

I also got a haircut. Talk about big adventure. My stylist was Chinese (I think), a bit older, and had a very different way of doing things. It all came out in the end just fine, but was a little scary getting there. She didn't ask what I wanted done until she had already washed, conditioned, and combed out my hair. Scissors were in hand. I can't wait to make the newish cut mine.

All in all it's been a great day after I found my way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 3

It was a great day off! Project Room Reclamation was put on hold. We saw a movie. We played games. Hairs were cut. Not much to share.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 2

This day started out slowly. The plan to take the husband to work early derailed when he decided to just sleep in. Then we went to get his truck from the shop. We are down one truck heater and $100 and consider it a win. If you want to know why, it's because I don't have to take him in to work anymore this week.

I went shopping on the way home. When I got back the boys were all like "Where ya been?" "Oh, I see, shopping, did you get good stuff?" And then I made them pizza and they loved me for the rest of the day.....Or not.

When Project Reclamation started, they were moderately motivated. 45 minutes into the drama of sorting room detritis, they were looking for an out. 90 minutes into it, they were downright whiny and rude. After 2 hours, there was a wee break and then they were back at it. Only after a severe lecture highlighting the benefits of efficient time management and receiving of The Look, did they finally get it in gear and accomplish the task set before them. Time elapsed: 3 hours 17 minutes. Needless to say, I got a lot of work done that I needed doing with no one clamoring for the computer.

I, on the other hand, read some books, completed a presentation, started another assignment, cooked dinner, and did some laundry. Now we have towels to dry ourselves with.

It's been a good day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 1

First day of Spring Break is a moderate success.

The boys hauled 5 bags of trash out of their room. They filled an 18 gallon tub about 3/5 full with stuff for garage sale. And it looks like they are about 1/10th done with the Room Reclamation.

While they were playing and sorting memories I managed to start the paperwork called taxes.

And contact the car warranty people to get assurance we really didn't have a warranty.

Talked with the husband 3 times to help decide to postpone major car repair  by bypassing the system that is affected. Smart, right? But it's just the heater and it's March. In Texas. I'm going with the odds that he won't need that sucker until November.

I got the oil changed in my car. Funny story: It was supposed to be an hour and a half wait. BUT, if you give the desk people sympathetic eyes while they chat with their friends on the phone, it goes faster. Out in an hour.

I also took the husband to work, let the friend's dog out, read some for fun, picked hubby up from work after waiting for almost an hour in the parking lot, and made a great dinner.

Coming up: finish our Netflix guilty pleasure series.

It's a nice start to a great week.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tuesday rant

I have held my tongue so often today I think I may have a permanent lisp.

 Here's what makes me rant:

benchmark testing
stupid people
smart people who act stupid
oblivious people who don't do their jobs
educrats who are so focused on CYA that they miss the point of their profession
teachers who should know better
slacker teachers who let everyone else do their duty while they chat with anyone they can find
parents of teens who get their feelings hurt and hurl accusations at my husband who got up early on the yuckiest weather day ever to meet with them
kids who don't know that silent lunch means you cannot play "I'll kick you harder than you kicked me" under the table
people who use false humilty (we all know you have to do it and wouldn't if your job wasn't on the line) to accept blame for something we all know they did wrong and try to get us to be excited about their newly clearly defined expectations
faculty meetings
inservice at faculty meetings about something I have no intention of implementing
meeting after the faculty meeting

And I can't post any of this on FB because people would think I mean them (which I might or might not) and get all paranoid and label me a grumpy witch "how can she be a pastor's wife" and I'd get a ton of "bless you r heart" comments that I just cannot tolerate tonight

I feel better

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And now, he's 10!

Happy Birthday!

10 years ago, this amazing guy entered our lives. Somehow we knew he wasn't one to be ignored. Maybe it was his 4 week early arrival. Maybe it was the loud wails. Perhaps it was the curious eyes or the shocking strength in one so small. He certainly does not disappoint. So many words describe this child of mine: curious, compassionate, thoughtful, thinker, solver, witty, handsome, loving, tactile, smart, amazing.

I have never laughed so often as I have since you entered my life. I have never loved so deeply or been challenged so regularly. Your inquisitive nature requests answers to questions I have never thought of. Your loving spirit adds gentleness and kindness to our family. You are God's child entrusted to us, or perhaps we've been entrusted to you. Your knowledge of spiritual truths is inspiring.

I love the young man you are and can't wait to see the man you will become. Keep dreaming, caring, and sharing yourself with those you meet. You are completely, entirely created in God's image.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Month old video

It's funny how time flies. A month ago Josh sang his first solo in public. Here is his 3rd performance of the day in the children's musical back in December.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A year of firsts

Since it's just you and me, I feel like I can share this. I'm scared of this year. In the last 11 days, it has become a year of firsts. I didn't mean it to be that way. I didn't sit and decide that "firsts" would be my mantra word for 2014. It just sort of happened. It started out simply.... On New Years Eve, we went to someone else's house. Our yearly party was really just us and 1 other couple, so we relocated to be with some other friends who were having their own get together. It was fun, but a little different. There were a lot of kids for the kids to hang with. There were friends that we love and didn't ever come to our party. No problem.Not a bad first. Just different. The next first was painting. My BFF and I went to one of those "pay us and we'll let you pretend you are an artist while we show you which colors to put in the numbers" places. It was fun. I totally suck as a painter and I'm sure my professional artist grandparents were shaking their heads in disappointment as they look down from up above. But I did have fun and even want to do it again. Another life moment accomplished. The start of school brought the first time I have ever come back from the holidays to work and left my kids at home, alone, unattended. It's a small first. They have been independent like this before, but this was the first time it was for a full work day. They did great. I did great. I have entered a new phase of life. It's the "I don't have to drag the kids with me everywhere" phase. I love it! This is a great first. And today, I did it again. Another first. And you won't believe it. I sure don't. Today, I got up at 6:!5 on a Saturday morning to go to... a running club. No, really, stop laughing. Last night, I saw a FB post from a church friend who was saying that starting today there was a couch-5K group for ladies over 40 starting and let her know if anyone wanted to come with. And it clicked. I have been asking for a way to get healthier with support from friends that fits into my life schedule. It resembled a light shining down from heaven and God saying "Were you serious about wanting to change some things, or just blabbing your mouth." So I went for it. Today, was my first ever running club experience. There are about 15 of us. I know about 5. I am totally intimidated. I was the slowest. And it hurt. I have NEVER run for exercise before. Being shaped like a soccer ball is not the prime form for running and my legs were totally angry at me when the stretching started. Yes, they started to hurt before the run/walk began. I'll admit it. But it felt like the right thing to do. It's very scary and I almost teared up as the group passed me. Almost quit then they turned around and passed me going the other direction. Got mad when my legs felt like jello and didn't want to propel me forward. And I am totally thankful to a new friend who walked with me. Her doctor told her no running, walk only. She's about 60. We had a nice chat and I'm glad she didn't leave me in the back alone when she could have power walked on. But, for this week, I am determined to work the program. I have my phone app loaded for Monday's interval. I have my Songza app ready for some great free workout music lists. I am ready. I hope my courage doesn't fail. So, it's a year of firsts. With more to come. Excited and scared are what I am feeling. And that's so much better than bored and in control. For today anyway.